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Kanye West embraces President Donald Trump in the Oval Office during a visit on Oct. 11, 2018. (Getty Images) Kanye West embraces President Donald Trump in the Oval Office during a visit on Oct. 11, 2018. (Getty Images)

Kanye West embraces President Donald Trump in the Oval Office during a visit on Oct. 11, 2018. (Getty Images)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher October 12, 2018

Kanye West jumps the gun in saying there are 4,000 Foxconn jobs in Wisconsin paying $53,000

Not to be outdone by pop singer Taylor Swift, rapper-producer Kanye West weighed in on politics — from the Oval Office, no less  — and made a statement about Wisconsin that we want to check.

Swift made her first foray into politics with an Instagram post in which she made a claim about a federal domestic violence law and a Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Tennessee, her home state. She earned a Mostly True from PolitiFact National.

West, who’s from Chicago, has spoken out before about politics, including going on a rant during one of his concerts in 2016. But as one of the highest-profile celebrity supporters of President Donald Trump, West drew more attention on Oct. 11, 2018, four days after Swift’s post.

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West pontificated during what USA Today called a "meandering 10-minute monologue while making remarks with Trump and Trump’s son-in-law, White House adviser Jared Kushner. He made his claim about Wisconsin during this exchange, according to the White House transcript:

West: And what we need is, we can empower the pharmaceuticals and make more money.  That’s one thing — I’ve never stepped into a situation where I didn’t make people more money.  So we can empower pharmaceuticals, we can empower our industries, we can empower our factories.  We can bring not only Adidas onshore, we can bring — Foxconn has set up a factory in, I think, Minnesota.

Kushner: Wisconsin.

West: Fifty-three thousand —

Trump: Wisconsin. Yeah.Wisconsin.

West: Yeah. Wisconsin. They have 4,000 jobs. People making $53,000 a year.

So, does Foxconn have 4,000 jobs in Wisconsin with people making $53,000 a year?

Not yet.

All our Tammy Baldwin and Leah Vukmir fact checks in the U.S. Senate race.

The Foxconn deal

West’s reference is to a massive deal that Foxconn, a Taiwanese company, forged with GOP Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Walker has praised the deal as a mega-job creator. Critics, including Democrat Tony Evers, who faces Walker in the Nov. 6, 2018 election, say Wisconsin is spending too much on the deal.

Foxconn plans to invest as much as $10 billion on a high-tech electronics factory in Racine County, in southeast Wisconsin, and to employ up to 13,000 people. In exchange, Wisconsin has agreed to give the company up to $2.85 billion in cash payments and $150 million in tax breaks.

The full $2.85 billion would be paid only if the company invests at least $9 billion in its plant and, in rough numbers, employs at least 13,000 people earning at least $30,000 per year.

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All our Tony Evers and Scott Walker fact checks in the governor’s race.

Kanye’s claim

We didn’t hear back from a spokesman for West about the claim. But here’s what we know about what West said:

No jobs yet: Foxconn has broken ground on the factory. But no one is producing ultra-high-definition flat screens yet.

Thousands expected: Foxconn has said it plans to initially employ 3,000 people  — and eventually 13,000 — at the plant. So, West’s figure of 4,000 jobs is in that range.

Wages: Foxconn’s contract with the state says the average annual salary will be $53,875, plus benefits. So, West’s claim of $53,000 is on target.

Critics of the Foxconn deal have questioned whether the average would reach that level only by Foxconn paying huge salaries to executives, and then paying wages well below the $53,875 to a large portion of employees. Under the state’s contract with Foxconn, wages paid up to $400,000 annually will be counted as part of the average.

Our rating

West says in Wisconsin, Foxconn has "4,000 jobs, people making $53,000 a year."

The Taiwanese company has broken ground on a massive electronics factory that it says will initially employ 3,000 people, and eventually 13,000, at an average wage of nearly $54,000 per year.

But both figures are plans, albeit connected to a contract Foxconn has signed with the State of Wisconsin. There aren’t any jobs, and therefore no average wages in that range, yet.

For a statement that is partially accurate, our rating is Half True.

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PolitiFact rating logo PolitiFact Rating:
Half True
In Wisconsin, Foxconn has "4,000 jobs, people making $53,000 a year."
In remarks at the White House
Thursday, October 11, 2018

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Interested in the U.S. Senate race? How about the battle for governor? Or what it’s like to do fact checks on Donald Trump and other national figures?

PolitiFact Wisconsin is hosting a panel discussion about fact checking and the 2018 election at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23 at Anodyne Coffee, 224 W Bruce St., Milwaukee.

Participating in the panel will be Angie Holan, editor of the national PolitiFact operation, Greg Borowski, editor of PolitiFact Wisconsin, and Tom Kertscher, PolitiFact Wisconsin reporter.

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Our Sources

The White House, transcript, Oct. 11, 2018

USA Today, "Kanye West goes on 10-minute soliloquy, references Superman cape and swears during White House visit," Oct. 11, 2018

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Foxconn will need thousands of workers with entry-level skills and a high school diploma," May 4, 2018

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Foxconn says it will create thousands of jobs at surprisingly good wages," July 26, 2017

Email, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. spokesman Mark Maley, Oct. 12, 2018

BizTimes, "Foxconn sought flexibility in meeting average wage target," July 6, 2018

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Kanye West jumps the gun in saying there are 4,000 Foxconn jobs in Wisconsin paying $53,000

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